Wienermobile is in Atlanta, led by a ‘hotdogger’ UGA grad Molly Swindall

UGA grad and former Johns Creek resident Molly Swindell is an Oscar Mayer "hotdogger" Wienermobile driver. She's here with my English bulldog Goo Goo at Suwanee Town Center March 30, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
UGA grad and former Johns Creek resident Molly Swindell is an Oscar Mayer "hotdogger" Wienermobile driver. She's here with my English bulldog Goo Goo at Suwanee Town Center March 30, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Included below is the current schedule for more appearances in the area the next two weeks

Somehow, a marketing idea Oscar Mayer’s nephew cooked up 85 years ago remains just as tasty and amusing today as it did during the Great Depression: an oversized hotdog plopped on top of a vehicle.

Today, Oscar Mayer, owned by Chicago-based Kraft Heinz, hires 12 college graduates a year to drive six Wienermobiles around the country, hitting hundreds of cities a year, drawing tens of thousands of people, some for the nostalgia kick, others for the kitsch.

The Wienermobile will be around metro Atlanta through April 11, hitting spots such as downtown Duluth, the Park Tavern by Piedmont Park, the Atlanta History Center and Greenbriar Discount Mall. (The schedule is below.)

One of their 2020-21 “hotdoggers,” Molly Swindall has visited 27 cities since last year and finally gets to come to her hometown. She grew up in Johns Creek and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2016 before getting a master’s in Glasgow, Scotland.

When she saw the opportunity on Facebook, she thought, “This can’t be a real job! But it was!” She ultimately decided would be a fun way to spend a year and see the country.

The company, she said, receives thousands of applicants a year. When she heard about it, she did a video and used all sorts of condiment-related props to show her love for hotdogs and marketing. It worked. She was picked.

Oscar Mayer sent her for two weeks in training at a special camp dubbed “Hotdog High” in Verona, Wisconsin last year where she learned the history of the company and how to properly drive the Wienermobile. She came up with a nickname for herself: “Mayochup” Molly. She also picked up hotdog-related puns she sprinkles into her commentary.

“We bring buns of smiles!” said Swindall, whose tenure ends June 7. She then added: “I know this is a time I will always relish.”

More seriously, she said she is just thrilled to provide even a tiny nibble of joy for folks hungry for connection during a bruising pandemic.

Not surprisingly, she has little trouble lining up spots from cooperative businesses, venues and cities to park the Wienermobile.

On a sunny spring Tuesday afternoon, with pollen floating everywhere, she planted the vehicle across three parking spots at Suwanee Town Center. The city advertised their arrival on social media posts and dozens of local families popped up at 4 p.m. to check the Wienermobile out and pocket a souvenir wiener whistle. (While the vehicle fits six, there is space in the back of the hotdog for storing thousands of whistles.)

As a “hotdogger,” Swindall is paired up with a second person at all times. In this case, she is working with Maggie Thomas, a Mississippi State graduate. Her work nickname? “Mustard Maggs.” They split driving duties, answer questions and keep the lines manageable.

“I just say we’re two bulldogs driving a big hotdog,” Thomas said, noting that both UGA and Mississippi State have the same mascot.

The Wienermobile does not have refrigeration or a grill, so actual hotdogs are not available. But little kids can stick their heads in life-sized cut-outs of hotdogs for pictures. One girl came prepared, donning her very own hotdog costume.

And it wasn’t just kids who were excited to be there.

Suwanee resident Jason David came with his wife and asked Swindall, “Can I look inside? Pretty please?”

After peeking into the interior and snapping pictures, David recalled owning his own Wienermobile Matchbox car and eating copious numbers of Oscar Mayer hotdogs as a kid.

“This is a real treat,” he said, then admitted it was his third time seeing the Wienermobile in his lifetime.

Deadlines for becoming a hotdogger for 2021 are already past. Applications for 2022 need to be in by January of next year.

Jennifer Troncolli of Suwanee saw on social media that the Wienermobile was in the town center and rushed over with her 11-year-old son Josh and his friend Bridget. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
Jennifer Troncolli of Suwanee saw on social media that the Wienermobile was in the town center and rushed over with her 11-year-old son Josh and his friend Bridget. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@aj

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@aj

Here is my Facebook Live I did Tuesday afternoon. I haven’t done one of these in ages, and for some reason, it would only take it vertically. I didn’t realize this and started horizontally, then switched to vertical after a few seconds:

Here are the future stops in metro Atlanta:

Newtown Park

March 31 from 3:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: Newtown Park Johns Creek

The Georgian Lakeside

April 1 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Location: The Georgian Lakeside Milton, not open to the public

Downtown Duluth

April 1 from 3:00 PM- 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: 3085 Main St., Duluth

Seacrest Studios CHOA - Egleston

April 7 from 3-4 p.m.

Not open to the public

Atlanta History Center

April 8 from 12-3 p.m.

Location: 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta

Downtown Woodstock

April 8 from 4:30-8 p.m.

Location: downtown Woodstock

Park Tavern

April 9 from 4:30-8 p.m.

Location: 500 10th St NE, Atlanta

Greenbriar Discount Mall

April 10 from 12-3 p.m.

Location: 2975 Headland Dr. SW, Atlanta

Avalon

April 10 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: 400 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta

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